Does Donald Trump have coattails? It’s beginning to appear as if he does, and even the lefty media is beginning to acknowledge this.
Republicans have gone 4-for-4 in special congressional elections to replace members who resigned to accept positions in the Trump administration. Democrats argued that three of the races were on safe ground for Republicans – in Montana, Kansas and South Carolina.
But they threw a record $39 million at winning the seat in Georgia’s 6th congressional district and fell short by a considerable total. And an analysis published on the Huffington Post shows Trump and his powerful tweets made a big difference.
Digital media specialists with Lake Research Partners looked at all the Twitter activity for the last four days of the campaign. They looked at tweets from national actors such as the president and the news media, as well as tweets from bots and activists on both sides.
They found Jon Ossoff, the 30-year-old standard-bearer for the Democrats, did not make the case for why to vote for him and President Trump made a devastating case for why to vote against him.
“What was missing from the tweets we analyzed was strong references to a positive message for Jon Ossoff,” the researchers wrote. “There was a lot of process-oriented references, focused around hashtags like #voteyourossoff and #flipthe6th, but we did not find much about Ossoff’s policy ideas for growing tech jobs and government accountability.”
He also didn’t make a compelling case of why Karen Handel should not be elected even though he appeared to get traction at times criticizing her opposition to Planned Parenthood and LGBTQ couples’ right to adopt.
President Trump did not tweet about the race at all from April 20 until July 19, when he began by discussing how Ossoff could not even vote for himself since he doesn’t live in the district, then focused in two subsequent tweets on his softness on crime and security and willingness to “raise taxes to the highest level.”
Two later tweets criticized Ossoff for being weak on immigration and crime and bad for jobs and taxes, and a final tweet was an endorsement of Handel, who did not embrace the president during her campaign.
Trump’s top four tweets generated 78,000 retweets, more than 284,000 hearts (likes) and more than 57,000 replies. Some of the replies were negative, but they were far outweighed by the retweets and hearts.
Handel already had begun to pull ahead when Trump entered the fray, but his impact was obvious from word clouds the researchers conducted before and after the president began to tweet. In the earlier one, words such as “early voting,” “livable wage,” “gay dad” and “outlawing gay” were popular.
In the second, “gay parents,” “legitimate,” “hetero” and the process tweets – “voteyourossoff,” etc. – held sway.
Republicans got some traction tying Ossoff to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, but they got much more from Trump pointing out Ossoff did not live in his district.
“In the final day before and day of the vote (June 19-20), we see @realDonaldTrump demonstrate his power on Twitter,” the researchers conclude, showing a graph that reveals Trump’s tweets were the second-most retweeted of the week.
They were not the only ones to recognize Trump’s power to persuade.
The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein took a look at the 10 senators up for re-election in 2018 in states Trump carried convincingly. His point was that although some signaled willingness to work with the president early on, all 10 now have embraced the strategy of joining the resistance.
“They had better hope the king is dead,” Pennsylvania-based GOP consultant John Brabender is quoted as saying in the story. “And that a year from now Donald Trump isn’t being seen, on the core issues he promised to these voters, that he has delivered.”
Brownstein was generally much more bullish on the Democrats’ chances, but even he saw danger. “The Trump 10’s defiant streak carries undeniable risks,” he wrote. “Trump carried more than half of the vote in six of the 10 states and dominated with working-class whites across them, exit polls found.”
Some of the 10, such as Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, say they can win by stressing policy differences. But others seem content to demonize the president and try to win based on his negatives.
Will that work? Ask Jon “Stop Trump” Ossoff.